Football News

Maurizio Sarri: How Eden Hazard cause me “defensive problems” at Chelsea

By Chris Smith

Published: 12:27, 21 June 2019

Maurizio Sarri has revealed he struggled to balance fielding his preferred system with getting the best out of Eden Hazard at Chelsea.

After spending just one season in the Stamford Bridge dugout, Sarri confirmed his Chelsea exit earlier this week, taking over from Max Allegri at Serie A champions, Juventus.

Sarri’s Hazard problem: Five key things to know…

  • Sarri won the Europa League and came third in the EPL during his one year at Chelsea.
  • Hazard notched 21 goals across all competitions.
  • Sarri has since moved to Juve, while Hazard is now with Real Madrid.
  • The Italian has revealed he struggled to mix his system with Hazard’s style.
  • The 60-year-old said the Belgian caused “defensive issues” for Chelsea.

And despite guiding the Blues to a third-place Premier League finish, the League Cup final and Europa League glory, sections of the Chelsea support never quite took to the Italian tactician’s style.

Now, Sarri himself has admitted he struggled to blend his system with the incredible talents of Hazard, who has since sealed a switch to Real Madrid.

“In recent years, I’ve had 4-3-3, but the 4-3-3 at Chelsea was very different to the one at Napoli,” Sarri stated.

“We had to accommodate Hazard’s characteristics, as he could change the game, but also his presence caused issues in defending that we had to work on.”

Despite Sarri’s struggles to fit Hazard into his system, the Belgian still managed 21 goals across all competitions in what was his most prolific season to date.

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While Sarri struggled with a prolific Hazard, one player he feels he can still get the best out of is Argentinian striker, Gonzalo Higuain, who managed just five goals in 14 Premier League games at Chelsea on loan from Juventus.

Higuain scored a record 36 goals in 35 Serie A matches for Napoli under Sarri in 2015/16 and the arrival of his old boss could resurrect his Juventus career.

“Pipa is a lad I love a great deal and it depends on him if he remains,” Sarri added.

“He didn’t enjoy the post-Juventus experience and was a little shaken. He can play another 3-4 years at a high level.”